GLAAD: Where We Are On TV 2017

GLAAD: Where We Are On TV 2017

For the last few years, GLAAD hasn’t given a character breakdown. Given that we have over 2200 characters in the database, we understand why! But it’s November, so it’s time again for the Where We Are on TV Report.

The Good

  • 58 out of 901 regular characters on broadcast, primetime TV identify as queer. At 6.4%, that’s the highest GLAAD has ever found. There are another 28 recurring characters (which is the same as last year).
  • Cable TV is doing well with 103 regular queers and 70 recurring. This is up from 92 and 50 last year, respectively.
  • Streaming media has 51 regulars and 19 recurring queers, which is up 5 from last year.

The Mediocre

  • Bisexuals skew heavily to women, still, and make up 28% of all queer characters. 75 women and 18 men. This is down from last year.
  • 24% of all characters are lesbians, which is up from last year but still down from 2 years ago when they made up 33%.
  • Transgender characters make up 5% of all characters, with 17 regular or recurring characters on all media platforms. Of those, 9 are trans women, 4 are trans men, and 4 are non-binary.
  • Of the 173 characters on cable, 27 are not expected to return due to series cancellations, finales, being written off, etc.

The Bad

  • White characters make up 77% of all queer characters on streaming media.
  • All three platforms tracked by GLAAD – broadcast, cable, and streaming originals – lacked significant LGBTQ characters of color.
  • There are only two asexual characters on the shows GLAAD tracks, both cisgendered men.
  • Only 43% of regular characters on broadcast TV are women, which is an underrepresentation the 51% of women in the U.S. population.

A note about the PoC representation. Netflix has one show where all the queers we’ve met are PoC. One Day at A Time. While that’s great for that show, it’s somewhat galling that everyone else is white.

Hot Takes And A Look Ahead

It’s not a shock that Freeform is the ‘best’ channel for queer representation. They have 25 regular and recurring characters, and just renewed The Bold Type for another two seasons.

I’m annoyed no one mentioned this to me, but Spike Network has rebranded as Paramount Network and will be rebooting the cult classic movie Heathers as a series! This time including Brendan Scannel as non-binary Heather Duke. That’s the Shannon Doherty role from the original. Well fuck me gently with a chainsaw!

Starz is working on a new show drama called Vida, which will include some queer Latinx characters.

And … yeah. There’s a new L Word. Unlike the Will & GraceRoseanne, or X-Files pickups, this is a SEQUEL, so it’ll get a new page, just like the Degrassi‘s do. Another problematic show on the horizon is Pose by Ryan Murphy, which is predicted to have many trans characters.

GLAAD didn’t mention this, but Black Lightning has cast Grace Choi, a lesbian Amazon in the comics, and love interest for Anissa Pierce. Two important things here. First, more queers. Second? They’re all being played by people of color. I sincerely worry, since this is a CW show, what that will mean and how it’ll play out. So there’s no talk about it crossing over with the Arrowverse so … maybe it’ll be okay?

About Mika A. Epstein

Mika has been deep in fandom since she could say 'Trekkie.' With decades experience in running fansites, developing software, and organizing communities, she's taken on the challenge of delving into the recesses of television for queers long forgotten. Making this site with Tracy is nothing short of serendipity. Mika lives with her wife and their cats in Southern California. Of course she has a hybrid, but she'd rather ride her bicycle.
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